EU-wide bank tax mooted

BERLIN: Germany and France are seeking to extend across Europe a planned levy on banks to pay for potential future bailouts, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaueble said.

"My French colleague Christine Lagarde and I have agreed that we want to fit such a solution into a European structure," he told the daily Die Welt.

The centre-right and liberal parties making up Germany's coalition government agreed last Sunday to levy the tax on financial institutions to pay for possible dismantling or restructuring of troubled banks in the future.

Business daily Handelsblatt said the tax could raise a billion euros ($1.35 billion) per year.

The country shelled out tens of billions of euros in 2008 to rescue banks hit by the global financial crisis, and wants to ensure that taxpayers will not bear such a heavy burden again.

Lagarde is to attend a German cabinet meeting on Wednesday to discuss the idea of setting up a fund with contributions from taxing banks.

Schaueble acknowledged that he could not totally prevent banks passing on the tax to their customers by raising charges and interest rates, but he expected market forces to come into play. "We want to apply the tax in accordance with the size of the banks and their risk categories," he said.

Schaueble said the chances of implementing the tax across Europe were good, pointing to the success of France and Germany last week in persuading the EU to agree measures to aid debt-stricken Greece.